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The taste and texture of homemade pizza dough is unbeatable. While store-bought, mass-produced pizzas are often loaded with preservatives, you know exactly what’s going in when you make your own pizza dough. This guide will teach you how to make a quick, easy pizza dough from scratch. Remember that pizza can be whatever you want it to be, and have fun with toppings.

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Gather your ingredients

Before you get to baking, gather your ingredients. You will need 3 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of yeast, ⅞ cup lukewarm water, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and 1¼ teaspoons salt. Note that the amount of water can vary: use a lesser amount in summer or humidity, and a greater amount in winter or dry climates. And, as you will see, the flour choice can vary depending on your preferences.

Pizza ingredients and pizza Rouzes / Getty Images
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Proof the yeast

Before combining all of your ingredients, you will need to proof your yeast. If you are using active dry yeast, dissolve it in 2 tablespoons of lukewarm water. Add a pinch of sugar and mix gently. Allow the yeast mixture to proof at room temperature. After 15 minutes, you should notice bubbles or foam formed by the yeast "blooming." This step is only necessary for active dry yeast. For instant yeast, go directly to mixing all ingredients.

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Mix ingredients to form the dough

Pour the remaining ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Add your yeast mixture or instant yeast to the mixing bowl. You can mix all of the ingredients by hand or using an electric mixer. The final result should be smooth and soft. On a stand mixture, use a low setting to mix for 4 to 5 minutes. The resulting dough can be a bit sticky but should be sturdy. Don’t work your dough at this point; next, we will knead the dough by hand on a floured surface.

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Tips and techniques for kneading the dough

Kneading is the most important step for getting the right texture in your pizza dough. Kneading works the dough, forming strong, stretchy strings of gluten. High protein ancient grains will have higher levels of protein, giving them a stronger, tougher dough. Knead your dough by hand on a clean, floured surface. Dust with additional flour as necessary to reduce the stickiness of the dough. Push the heel of your hand into the ball of dough and roll it across the workspace. Fold the dough over and repeat this motion, stretching the gluten in the dough. Continue for at least 3-5 minutes, or until the dough is ready.

Woman kneading dough MajaMitrovic / Getty Images
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Make sure the dough is ready

After 3-5 minutes of kneading, check to see that your dough is ready. Dough will be ready when it’s no longer sticky and can be stretched easily. To confirm your dough is ready to go, try the windowpane test: If you can stretch the dough between your fingers to a width so thin that you can almost see through it, that means the gluten bonds are strong enough and the dough is ready. Remember not to work your dough any more after this point, or else the resulting pizza crust will be tough.

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Form and roll your dough

Forming your dough depends on the size, shape, and thickness of your pizza. If you want to make a circular pizza, stretch it into shape by pulling with your fingers. After you get to your desired shape and crust thickness, allow the dough to rest. Cover with a greased plastic wrap and leave the dough for 15 minutes at room temperature.

Stretching dough Nikola Nastasic / Getty Images
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Pre-bake the crust before adding toppings

Pre-baking the crust makes it more sturdy, allowing it to hold your toppings without collapsing. While the kneaded dough is resting, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. The surface you will be cooking on⁠—whether an oven rack, baking sheet, or pizza stone⁠—will need to be at oven temperature before you put the dough in. Lightly grease the surface of the pizza with olive oil and prick with a fork, just as you would for focaccia bread. Place the dough in the oven and bake for 6 minutes.

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Add sauce, toppings, and bake

After 6 minutes, remove your pizza from the oven. Add your favorite ingredients, starting from the sauce, followed by cheese, and finishing with additional toppings of your choice. At this point, you can save your pizza for later by allowing it to cool and wrapping in lightly greased plastic wrap before freezing. When baking from frozen, bake the pizza for 25 minutes at 450 degrees F. If you are cooking immediately, return the pre-baked pizza to the oven for 8-15 minutes. Allow the pizza to cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving. Buon appetito!

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Other practical pizza tips

You can modify the taste and texture of your pizza by changing the ingredients. Using all-purpose flour will result in a chewier crust, whereas bread flour or flour made from ancient grains will give you a crispy texture. It all depends on your personal preference and dietary restrictions.

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Get creative

Make your pizza as simple as you want, or pile on the toppings. A classic margherita pizza is only topped with tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella rounds, and fresh basil. But pizza can be whatever you want it to be. Add tasty peppers and vegetables, or herbs for a burst of flavor. Create a dessert pizza by replacing the savory olive oil with vegetable or coconut oil, and add 15% of the weight of the flour in sugar. This recipe uses 3 cups of flour, so add ½ cup sugar. Get creative and have fun!

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